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In Memoriam Guido Calza (1888-1946)

American Journal of Archaeology 50 (1946), 407-408

News of the unexpected death of Guido Calza has saddened his friends and the friends of Ostia throughout the world. He was born on April 21, 1888 in Milan, the son of Arturo Calza, a distinguished journalist who, long before the days of Virginio Gayda, edited the Giornale d'Italia in Rome. In 1912, after having completed his studies, he entered the Amministrazione Antichità e Belle Arti as inspector under Dante Vaglieri who since 1906 had been in charge of the excavations in Ostia, since 1908 with the title of director. It was not given to Vaglieri to see his goal realized, the resurrection of the ancient port of Rome. After eight years of brilliantly conducted excavations, he died in 1913 in his office in the midst of the ruins of Ostia, leaving his task as a legacy to Guido Calza who followed him soon in the directorship of the excavations. Calza brought new problems to the work in Ostia. In a series of studies (cf. especially "La preminenza dell' 'Insula' nelle Edilizia Romana," MonAnt, xxiii, 1915, pp. 541-608, and "Gli scavi recenti nell'abitato di Ostia," ibid., xxvi, 1920, pp. 321-430, and "La origine Latina dell'abitazione moderna," Architettura e Arti Decorative, iii, 1923) he investigated the new type of dwelling discovered in Ostia, relating it to both the house of Imperial Rome and to the development of modern housing. In his excavations he was singularly successful. To mention only a few of his early discoveries: the original castrum of the fourth century B.C., the whole region of the Forum, including the "Terme sul Foro" and the "Pantheon," the important "Caseggiato dei Dipinti," and the most magnificent of all horrea so far found anywhere: the Horrea Epagathiana et Epaphroditiana. There followed the excavations of the grandiose necropolis of Isola Sacra, mainly of the second century of our era (1930; published in 1940 in a beautiful volume; cf. AJA, xlviii, 1944, pp. 213-218) and of the first-century cemetery on the Via Laurentina (NS, 1938, pp. 26-74).

In 1938 excavations on an unprecedented scale were began in Ostia itself and carried through for nearly three years in connection with the world exhibition planned for 1942. Although no plan of the new excavations which comprised the whole of the Decumanus Maximus and Cardo Maximus has become known in this country, it can be safely surmised that the area uncovered up to 1932 (cf. the plan of Calza's excellent guide-book Ostia. Guida storico-monumentale 1929) has been doubled in the latest excavations. Until September, 1943, Calza was able to continue his work; then, at the order of the Germans, Ostia Antica had to be evacuated within twenty-four hours. Under great difficulties Calza kept contact with the ancient city which, thanks to his foresight and vigilance, did not suffer important damage. Works of art found in the excavations were housed in a special museum, which was famous not only for its contents but also for the exquisite taste displayed in exhibiting the objects. The increase of material unearthed since 1938 demanded more space, and a greatly enlarged museum was inaugurated on June 12, 1945.

On April 1, 1945, Calza had been entrusted in addition with the Soprintendenza del Foro e Palatino as successor of Alfonso Bartoli. He planned to reopen the Museum of the Forum and to reorganize the Museum on the Palatine. An even more gigantic task of publication lay before him. He wisely distributed the various groups of monuments among different scholars and reserved for himself a comprehensive volume on Ostia in which he planned to present the results of an experience of more than thirty years. He was working on this book when death overtook him on April 17, 1946.

Guido Calza's kindness and generosity toward his fellow scholars made friends for him among compatriots and foreigners alike. His enthusiasm for the great task which he had set to himself has been and will remain a source of inspiration for all those who had the privilege of working with him. What he had said thirty-two years ago about Dante Vaglieri is equally true of Calza himself: Ostia indeed was for him "non solo un campo di studio, ma un centro di vita per ogni sua facoltà." (Herbert Bloch)